OKLAHOMA CITY —
But over time, Memphis — the league’s top defensive team in the regular season — has made it harder for Durant to excel with the game on the line. After going 10 for 16 from the field with 22 points in the fourth quarter of the first two games, Durant has gone 3 for 17 and scored seven points in the fourth quarter in Games 3 and 4 plus overtime on Monday night.
His shooting percentage in crunch time has gone down in each game.
“We’ve just got to find a way to make those plays. We’re playing hard every day. It’s just not going our way,” Durant said. “We just have to get ready for Game 5. It’s at home, so it should be exciting. I’m looking forward to it.”
While Oklahoma City is at risk of bowing out, the Grizzlies are one win away from the next big step in their progression as a franchise. Before this season, they had won only one postseason series, against San Antonio in 2011.
“It’s still a game. Still we have to play another game, and we have to win another game. There’s no greater magnitude,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “It’s just a game that we have to go out and play well to win. It’s just like when were down 0-1, just like when we were 1-1, just like when we were 2-1. It never changes. It’s a game that has to be played to the best of your ability and the winning and losing takes care of itself.”
With two teams that have been so closely matched, there don’t figure to be any more major adjustments at this point. Brooks was happy with his decision to have power forward Serge Ibaka guard 7-footer Marc Gasol instead of counterpart Zach Randolph, given that Ibaka emerged from a shooting slump for 17 points and 14 rebounds.